Assessment of Factors Influencing Food Consumption Diversity Among Farming Households in Izzi Lga of Ebonyi State, Nigeria
The study was conducted has the main objective of identifying the major factors influencing food consumption diversity in the farming households of Izzi L.G.A. Ebonyi, In order to achieve this objective, demographic and socio-economic data were collected from 120 randomly selected farm households. A purposive sampling method was employed to select the sampling units. A survey was conducted to collect the primary data from the sampled farmers in the study areas through administering a structured questionnaire to farming households to gather qualitative and quantitative data pertaining to household demographic characteristics and related issues about the farm household in a specific period. And also a secondary data from various sources and personal observation were conducted. Both the descriptive and econometric methods of analysis were employed to analyze the collected data., Limiting population size, promoting and expanding off-farm income generating schemes, improving the livestock production and productivity, access to credit and agricultural inputs like chemical fertilizer and improved seeds with market functioning were recommended.
- Background of study
Enough food in terms of quantity and quality for all people is an important factor for a nation to continue its development. Lack of food in long terms will lead to hunger and starvation that can cause death. So that enough food is a necessity condition to be well nourished. In today’s world food insecurity, malnutrition and hunger would remain the main agenda and much more serious problems (Sila and Pellokila, 2007).
However, there are 1.4 billion poor people living on less than US$1.25 a day. One billion of them live in rural areas where agriculture is their main source of livelihood, especially sub- Saharan Africa and Southern Asia (UN, 2011; IFAD, 2011a). Approximately, 2.5 billion people of the world’s live directly from agricultural production systems, either as full- or part-time farmers, or as members of farming households that support farming activities (FAO, 2008a). Despite their importance in global and regional food production, smallholder farmers comprise the majority of the world’s undernourished population and most of those living in absolute poverty (UN Millennium Project 2005a; IFAD, 2011a).
About 842 million people in the world remain food insecure, with many more suffering from ‘hidden hunger’ caused by micronutrient or protein deficiencies, and where about 205 million children are malnourished. While food insecurity occurs in most countries to varying degrees, 75% of the food insecure people live in the rural parts of the developing countries, in which two- thirds of these live in just seven countries (Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, India, Indonesia and Pakistan) (Graham et al., 2007 pp 23; Keatinge et al., 2011; FAO 2011a; Khush et al., 2012).
Throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there is food deficient. Frequent droughts, growing expenditure on food production and imports, falling export earning and rapid population growth have been cutting into living standards and growth prospects. The effect have been pervasive, not only on incomes of agricultural producers, who include most of Africa’s poor, but also on supplies of food and raw materials for industry, on employment, savings, government revenue, and on the demand for goods and services produced outside agriculture. Yet policy changes and planning for resumption of growth in agriculture are hampered by a serious lack of country-specific information. Reform efforts all too often try to apply general remedies to Africa’s diverse problems. In all the SSA countries, population growth has put intensive pressure on agricultural land and the size of land holding is inadequate to produce enough food for the whole family. As a result, population pressure has brought increasingly marginal land into cultivation, which possible affects statistics on average yield per hectare. The need to increase land and labor is becoming urgent (Khush et al., 2012).
Despite, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a region where with the highest incidence of food insecurity in the world (Devruex, 2006), Nigeria is among the poorest and most food insecure countries of the world, where 26% of the population live below the poverty line (FDRE, 2013) and many people died of drought than other problems particularly in the periods of the registered and documented recurrent drought epidemics. The country has been facing challenging problems ranging from those induced by environmental crisis to those caused by demographic and socioeconomic constraints that adversely affect people’s production system (World Bank, 2008).
To reverse the dire food insecurity situation of small-scale rural farmers, the Nigerian government formulated a long-term strategy—the agricultural development-led industrialization strategy (ADLI)—which takes agriculture as its point of departure and as the growth engine (Alemu et al., 2002).
According to Ebonyi Agricultural Office, Ebonyi is believed to be one of the chronically and seasonally food insecure areas of the SNNP Region. In Ebonyi, 24 food insecure kebeles are by now using Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP- Annex 3). The total production is persistently inadequate to cover food requirement of the population. This is mainly due to high population growth, erratic climatic condition, unimpeded environmental degradation, poorly developed infrastructure and the recurrent drought. Due to such reasons, it has long been a food deficit Woreda with widespread and deepening seasonal food insecurity situation.
The main reasons for selecting Ebonyi as the area of the study are: (a) rural farmers in this Woreda are exposed to a number of natural and man-made disasters. As a result, they are repeatedly prone to seasonal food insecurity, (b) Ebonyi is labeled as typical food insecure area despite various food and nutrition security interventions made by the government and non-government organizations.
1.2 Statement of the problem
In Nigeria, food shortage has aggravated the already poor economy of the country and it varies from one area to another depending on the state of the natural resources and the extent of development of these resources. Both chronic and transitory problems of food insecurity are widespread and severe mainly in the rural areas of the country. The reasons are mainly due to environmental and human factors (Webb et al., 1992).
In Nigeria, the number of chronically food insecure population is slightly more than eight million. Hence, the country needs immense and all round efforts to totally eliminate chronic and transient food insecurity. Accordingly, it has been undertaking different actions. However, the typical response to food insecurity in Nigeria, prior to the start of the PSNP, was emergency food relief resourced through an unpredictable annual appeal process. While there was no doubt that this relief saved many lives, it did not halt the increasing numbers of food insecure people (Abebaw, 2010). According to Ebonyi Agricultural and Rural Development Office (2010), Ebonyi was one of the 79 Ebonyi which were defined as chronically food insecure in SNNPR. Like other Ebonyi, the programme started in 2005 by targeting 6,456 households. But currently, the number of beneficiary households increased to 19,024 within the 24 kebeles of Meskan Wereda.
As noted by Degefa (2005), not only the amount of rainfall, but also the quality of land affects the type and amount of crop that a household harvests. Because with a shortage of rainfall and declined soil fertility, intercropping main crops with cash crops is becoming difficult. This, in turn, affects household’s level of food security.
The major aggravating factors of food insecurity in the study Kebeles (Beresa, Dobo Tuto and Semen Shershera) are shortage of rain and erratic nature of rainfall distribution which leads to heavy soil erosion during rainy seasons. These are the major phenomena which led to asset depletion of many farming households in the study area.
Per capita growth of production of major food items in the study area are not sufficient to satisfy the demand of an increasing population. Rate of population growth is increasing due to cultural practices (polygamy), lack of knowledge on family planning services on the part of the household head, limited health related service providers and socio-cultural influence. Although the seriousness of food shortage varied from year to year, farm households faced seasonal food shortage almost every year. This implies the existence of structural, socio-economic, cultural, demographic and other factors underlying the poverty and seasonal food insecurity problem in the study area.
1.3 Research questions
The research questions are the following:
- What is the current status of food insecurity problem in the farming households of Izzi L.G.A.?
- What are the most important factors influencing food consumption diversity in the farming households in Izzi L.G.A.?
- What are the proportional/ apparent relationship between food insecurity and its determinants?
- How are the coping strategies pursued by the households against the risks of food shortage?
1.4 Research objectives
The general objective of the study is to identify major factors influencing food insecurity in the farming households of Izzi L.G.A. in Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study are:
- To assess the current status of food insecurity in the farming households of Ebonyi;
- To examine the effects of some variables that may influence food insecurity of farming households and identify the most important determinants;
- To describe the proportional/ apparent relationship between food insecurity and its determinants; and
- To explore the diverse coping mechanisms pursued by the farming households in Izzi L.G.A.
1.5 Significance of the study
Identifying and understanding major factors that cause and/ or influence the problem as well as its copping strategies at household level deserves rigorous empirical research where food shortage has been pronounced and has great importance for policy implications and interventions.
It is imperative to describe and diagnose the existing farming systems to provide policy related information that helps to prioritize among the many possibilities depending on the relative extent of influences of its determinants. More specifically, the results of the study help concerned bodies formulate policies and develop intervention mechanisms that are tailored to the specific need of the study area. In the end, the study will contribute to further research, extension and development schemes.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the study
The study focused on identifying major factors that are expected to influence household food insecurity and the copping strategies with limited number of households in the rural parts of Ebonyi. The study covered 120 households in Izzi LGA.
Due to financial and time limitations, the study didn’t focus on a comparative analysis of food insecurity problem between urban and Izzi. Despite the limited sample size and area, the study was concerned about transitory food insecurity faced by farm household for any magnitude ranging from mild to severe and hence doesn’t deal with causes of chronic food insecurity.
The major challenges the researcher faced were lack of financial support and willingness of the respondents to give the appropriate responses to the questions during data collection. Despite all these challenges, the researcher did his level best to capture reliable information explaining the purpose of the study and the benefits it contributes to their well-being.
1.7 Organization of the paper
This paper is organized into six chapters. The first chapter comprises the introduction of the research consisting of the background of the study, statement of the problem, research questions, research objectives of the paper, significance, definition of terms, scope and limitations of the paper. The second chapter deals with literatures reviewed from various sources. The third chapter provides about the research methodology, the type of research design used the sampling techniques, the data collection methods and also data analysis. Chapter four consists of the major research findings and discussions and the paper winds up by presenting summary, conclusion and recommendations in chapter five.
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